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NBA Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

With the NBA Season getting ready to start it’s only right that we answer a few questions in regards to awards, playoff seeding, finals predictions etc…. Please be sure to sound off and voice your opinions and enlighten us on your predictions.

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in scoring?

  
Hornback: Kevin Durant

Fort: Kevin Durant

Carter: Kevin Durant

Who will lead the league in rebounds?

  Hornback: Andre Drummond

Fort: Hassan Whiteside

Carter: Deandre Jordan

Who will lead the league in assists?

  

Hornback: John Wall

Fort: John Wall

Carter: Chris Paul

Who will lead the league in PER? (Player Efficiency Rating)

    
Hornback: Anthony Davis

Fort: Anthony Davis

Carter: Chris Paul

Who will lead the league in usage percentage?

  Hornback: LeBron James

Fort: Carmelo Anthony

Carter: James Harden

What will be the top 5 offenses?

   
Hornback:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Thunder
  4. Hawks
  5. Spurs

Fort:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Thunder
  4. Hawks
  5. Spurs

Carter:

  1. Clippers
  2. Warriors
  3. Thunder
  4. Rockets
  5. Heat

What will be the top 5 defenses?

    
Hornback:

  1. Jazz
  2. Warriors
  3. Bucks
  4. Grizzlies
  5. Wizards

Fort:

  1. Warriors
  2. Wizards
  3. Cavaliers
  4. Bucks
  5. Thunder

Carter:

  1. Bucks
  2. Bulls
  3. Pelicans
  4. Warriors
  5. Jazz

Awards Predictions:

Who will be this season’s Coach of the Year?

  

Hornback: Alvin Gentry

Fort: Erik Spolestra

Carter: Jason Kidd

Who will be this season’s Executive of the Year?

  
Hornback: R. C. Buford (San Antonio)

Fort: Pat Riley (Miami)

Carter: John Hammond (Milwaukee)

Who will be the season’s Rookie of the Year?

  Hornback: Jahlil Okafor

Fort: Emannuel Mudiay (Winslow very close 2nd)

Carter: Karl-Anthony Towns

Who will be this season’s Most Valuable Player of the Year?

  Hornback: James Harden

Fort: Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook

Carter: James Harden

Who will be this season’s Defensive Player of the Year?

  Hornback: Rudy Gobert

Fort: Dwight Howard

Carter: Anthony Davis

Who will be this season’s Sixth Man of the Year?

  Hornback: Isaiah Thomas

Fort: Louis Williams

Carter: Isaiah Thomas

Who will be this season’s Most Improved Player?

  
Hornback: Derrick Favors

Fort: Jordan Clarkson

Carter: Rudy Gobert

All NBA 1st Team

Hornback:
Steph Curry
James Harden
LeBron James
Anthony Davis
Dwight Howard

Fort: 
Russell Westbrook
James Harden
LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Anthony Davis

Carter:
Chris Paul
James Harden
LeBron James
Blake Griffin
Anthony Davis

All NBA 2nd Team

Hornback:
Chris Paul
Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
DeMarcus Cousins

Fort: 
John Wall
Steph Curry
Paul George
Lamarcus Aldridge
Blake Griffin

Carter:
Steph Curry
Russell Westbrook
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
Demarcus Cousins

All NBA 3rd Team

Hornback:
John Wall
Jimmy Butler
Kevin Love
Blake Griffin
Marc Gasol

Fort: 
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Chris Bosh
Marc Gasol

Carter:
John Wall
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Pau Gasol
Marc Gasol

All NBA Defensive 1st Team

Hornback:
John Wall
Tony Allen
Draymond Green
Anthony Davis
Rudy Gobert

Fort: 
John Wall
Jeff Teague
Kawhi Leonard
LeBron James

Carter:
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Anthony Davis
Rudy Gobert

All NBA Defensive 2nd Team

Hornback:
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Kawhi Leonard
Serge Ibaka
Marc Gasol

Fort: 
Chris Paul
Jimmy Butler
Paul George
Anthony Davis
Deandre Jordan

Carter:
Michael Conley
Tony Allen
Draymond Green
Serge Ibaka
Deandre Jordan

All NBA Rookie Team

Hornback:
D’Angelo Russell
Emmanuel Mudiay
Mario Hezonja
Stanley Johnson
Jahlil Okafor

Fort: 
Emmanuel Mudiay
D’Angelo Russell
Justice Winslow
Karl-Anthony Towns
Jahlil Okafor

Carter:
Emmanuel Mudiay
Mario Hezonja
Stanley Johnson
Karl-Anthony Towns
Jahlil Okafor

Playoff Predictions

  
DeShawn Hornback:

  1. Warriors
  2. Spurs
  3. Rockets
  4. Clippers
  5. Thunder
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Pelicans
  8. Jazz

Ryan Fort

  1. Thunder
  2. Warriors
  3. Rockets
  4. Spurs
  5. Clippers
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Pelicans
  8. Mavs

Tyler Carter:

  1. Spurs
  2. Warriors
  3. Clippers
  4. Rockets
  5. Thunder
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Suns
  8. Kings

  
Hornback:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Hawks
  3. Wizards
  4. Bulls
  5. Raptors
  6. Heat
  7. Bucks
  8. Detroit

Fort:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Hawks
  3. Wizards
  4. Heat
  5. Bulls
  6. Raptors
  7. Bucks
  8. Pistons

Carter:

  1. Cavaliers
  2. Bulls
  3. Heat
  4. Raptors
  5. Wizards
  6. Bucks
  7. Hawks
  8. Pacers

Final Four

Hornback: 

Spurs vs Warriors
Cavaliers vs Wizards

Fort: 

Thunder vs Rockets
Cavaliers vs Heat

Carter:

Spurs vs Clippers
Cavaliers vs Heat

Finals Predictions:

  
Hornback:

Spurs vs Cavaliers Cavaliers in 7

Fort: 

Thunder vs Heat Thunder in 6

Carter:

Spurs vs Cavaliers Cavaliers in 6

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Warriors (1) vs Grizzlies (5) A Struggle for Control

This a series that I personally have been really looking forward to. I’ve said multiple times if anyone is going to take out the Warriors this year, it would be this Memphis Grizzlies team.

The Grizzlies have been doing what they do every year; except Gasol and Conley have stepped up tremendously this year making the transition from an annoying bottom seed, to a legit championship contender. They’ve surprisingly not only held up without Lionel Hollins, but have actually exceeded anyone’s expectations this year. David Joerger should gain a lot more attention than he already has due to proving many doubters wrong, including myself. They study every opponent very carefully and force them into uncomfortable, long midrange, contested shots. They won’t be beaten with pure athleticism despite their deficiencies in that area. They will make you pay if your team is not fundamentally sound.

Bad part for Memphis is the opponents they have in front of them have both of those attributes. Kerr has made this offense run just as beautifully as I always thought it should when Mark Jackson was running the squad. They went from a lot of isolations and basic set ups to this beautiful well oiled machine. There are multiple possessions where every player will touch the ball, and the communication with everyone on the court is something to behold. This is how basketball should be played. Now add in the best shooting back court of all time with an outstanding bench and a man who just seems to make everything happen out on the court, and you have yourself a favorite to win it all in the very tough Western Conference.

Starters

PG: M. Conley vs S. Curry

SG: C. Lee vs K. Thompson

SF:  T. Allen vs H. Barnes

PF:  Z. Randolph vs D. Green

C:    M. Gasol vs A. Bogut

Keys

The most interesting matchup of this series has to be at the point guard position. The impact each of these two point guards had an equal amount of importance in their two prospective series’. Curry was exactly what every MVP voter in his favor expected him to be. He absolutely dominated and did whatever he wanted to against whoever attempted to guard him.

Conley on the other hand had a different kind of impact for his team, locking down one of the most explosive guards in the game, Damian Lillard. Lillard was made completely irrelevant against the Grizzlies, which was partially do to the entire team, but 90% of that was Conley being an unshakable wall in front of Lillard every chance he got.

Normally I would say that there is no way in hell anybody can lock down Curry, but if we are to be honest we have seen it before. Specifically from the Spurs who stick Danny Green on him and make him nearly completely ineffective. Conley has that same ability to do the same things Danny Green did to Curry. That matchup alone could determine the series.

You have a high paced ridiculous well ran offense against the grind of the Memphis Grizzlies. Finesse versus power. This series will depend a lot on the control of the pace. Golden State has been the best team in the league at running up and down the court while the Grizzlies are notorious for there slow methodical beat down on teams.

Injuries play a huge factor as well with Conley constantly having nagging injuries along with Allen and Lee playing hurt as well. The Warriors are fresh and at 100%. In terms of health, things are definitely in Golden State’s favor.

Prediction: The Warriors beat the Grizzlies 4-3. It’s hard as I can see things going either way in this series. It should be a great playoff series that comes down to the wire.

Is Dirk a top 5 Power Forward All Time? (Pt.2)

In my last post I left off comparing Dirk to KG and said Dirk would KG’s Boston teams better.(link to my last post http://wp.me/p33YLP-2a) With Dirk’s shooting touch and post play, ( which is a bit underrated,) Boston would be alot better than they are now and better than they were yesterday.
But anyway, on to the next player on the list, Charles Barkley.
Chuck was an undersized four that played big and could handle the rock decent enough to be a guard; or in his case a Small Forward. At 6’6, 252lbs Chuck averaged 22.1ppg, 12rebs and 4ast for his career. During the duration of his career he won an MVP award, was named an All-Star 11 times, got selected to the All-NBA First and Second Team 5x each and was on the All-Rookie First Team (1985). He also went to the Finals, where he lost to MJ, and played for the Original Dream Team. That’s all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day he’s not better than Dirk. As a 7ft pure shooter, Dirk boasts an advantage. Throw in the fact that he didn’t play with Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Johnson, Julius Irving, Moses Malone, etc and you have an uneven argument. By pairing Dirk and Hakeem together you’ll have a dynamic duo that’ll be unguardable. ( Dirk had Tyson Chandler, TYSON CHANDLER as center and won the chip, c’mon now.) Pair Dirk with Doc J, Mo Cheeks and M.Malone and you’ll have a dynasty, their ages wouldn’t matter as long as Dirk was there. Last but not least, Dirk’s game isn’t based on athleticism like Charles’ was, therefore that’ll enable him play longer and still be effective like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was. Longevity is one of the major reasons why Dirk will surpass Charles Barkley.

In front of Chuck lies Karl Malone, who is the 2nd leading scorer in NBA history. Malone has two MVP Awards, 14 All-star selections, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, two 2nd Team selections and 3 All-Defensive First Team selections and was apart of the original Dream Team. Like Chuck, Malone accomplished some things as well as lose to MJ in the Finals, but twice. For his career he averages 25ppg on 18 shots, 10rebs and 4ast.
Dirk on the other hand averages 23ppg on 17 shots, 8rebs and 3asts, while shooting a better Freethrow and 3pt % than Malone. Realistically the numbers are close, but the impact on the game isn’t.
Downlow Malone would score at will and ran the Pick and Roll to perfection with John Stockton. By doing those two things well he helped open the floor a bit for Jeff Hornacek and Bryon Russell. Having J.Sloan as the coach helped alot as well, especially when it comes to running the pick and roll. Substitute Malone for Dirk and the Jazz become better. Defensively they add a bigger and longer body, which pays dividends when defending. Offensively it’ll help help open up more things. With him stretching the floor he’ll open up lanes for Stockton to drive in as well as Hornacek. At 6’9 Malone wasn’t a joke but he also wasn’t a 7ft pure shooter that couldn’t be stopped.

Coincidentally Dirk won his first Playoff series against Karl Malone. During that series Malone averaged: 28ppg 4to 1blk 1stl 3ast 9reb and 24shots, while shooting 80% FT, 50% 3pt ( 0.2 -0.4 that doesn’t count!) and 40% from the field.
Dirk averaged: 24pts 2to 1blk 0stl 2ast 8reb and 16 shots, while shooting 90% FT 34% 3pt and 40% from the field.
Is there a clear winner? I mean give Dirk the same amount of shots and he would’ve averaged more points. But honestly this debate can go either way. Would you prefer a nice, average sized post man who is devastating on the low block, or a 7ft big who can shoot from anywhere and is just as good downlow as anyone else? The choice is yours.

Now it’s time to see how Dirk measures up the greatest PF, Tim Duncan. Duncan is a 4x Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 2x MVP, 14x All-Star, , 9x All-NBA First Team and 3x Second Team Player, 8x All-Defensive First Team and 5x All-Defensive Second Team player and a former Rookie of the Year. With him boasting all of these credentials it’s hard to put anyone over him! But when you look at the numbers you see a different story.
Career Averages: Duncan- 20ppg 11reb 3ast and 2blks
Dirk- 23ppg 8reb 3ast 1blk
As was the case in other battles no one really gains the edge.
In 26 Playoff games against each other the averages look like this:
Duncan- 26pts 3to 2blks 1stl 4ast 12reb 18 shots 53% FGP 0% 3pt 65% FT
Dirk- 25pts 2to 1blk 1stl 2ast 10reb 16 shots 50% FGP 23% 3pt 92% FT
And once again we don’t have anyone gaining an edge. But when you look at the teams you have to give it to Dirk. Dirk didn’t get coached by Gregg Pop. or play with Tony Parker, David Robinson and Manu Ginobli. Give Dirk the supporting cast Duncan has/had and Dirk’s resume would look different.
He’s Great Admit It
Throughout all of the comparisons one thing remained constant, he didn’t have as much help as them. Despite not having as much help as the others he managed to get a ring with good role players. When he had Nash and Finley on his side Nash wasn’t Phoenix Nash and Finley aged quickly therefore making them good, but not great 2nd and 3rd options. Some say he’s not a defender because he doesn’t have any awards. What they fail to realize is that he plays solid but not great defense. When you’re 7ft with long arms you’re already a decent defender.
Other things people should take note of is how Dirk changed the postions. He completely revolutionized the Forward positions. After watching him terrorize the league as a 7ft pure shooter, GMs and others started drafting players of his caliber. Dirk paved the way for guys like Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Ersan llyasova, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, Ryan Anderson, Andrea Bargnani, Kevin Love and others who are all essentially shooting bigmen. Barkley, Duncan and Malone didn’t do that.
Dirk also led his Maverick teams to 50+ wins in 11 straight seasons. Only Duncan surpassed that. Dirk also led his team to a 67 win season, which happens to be tied for the 6th most wins ever in the Regular Season. And if that isn’t enough Dirk is only one of five players, Elgin Baylor, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bob Petit and Shaq, to average 25pts and 10rebs in the Playoffs and last but not least the only 7ft player to be in the 50’s, 40’s, 90’s club.
At the end of the day he’s the greatest European player and the 2nd best, if not the best, Power Forward to ever play the game.
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Is Dirk Nowitzki a top 5 PF All-time? (Part 1)

         When people, fans, analysts, commentators etc, discuss the Power Forward position the conversation begins and ends with Tim Duncan, a player universally known as the Greatest PF to ever play the game. After Tim Duncan the likes of Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley and Kevin McHale get mentioned; when people try to compare Dirk Nowitzki to them most people say he’s soft and isn’t top 10. If you asked them to name 10 PFs better than him they wouldn’t be able to do it without repeating some of the names listed. Before I compare Dirk to the Elite 5, I’m going to start off from the bottom.
          Most of the young people in the world that pay attention to basketball, I’m talking kids, would say Blake Griffin, L. Aldridge and Kevin Love are better than Dirk. If we’re speaking about today then that claim may be valid, but since we’re talking about career wise they have to take a backseat to Dirk since their careers just started. But to kill this arguement even more, Dirk has led two teams to the Finals while K.Love hasn’t made it to the playoffs and L.Aldridge hasn’t been past the first round.
              Before Dirk got his ring, people speculated that Chris Bosh, David West, Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace, Amare’ Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer and Zach Randolph were better players. Dirk was taking a hit at the time for choking in crunch time and not being able to lead his team past the first round in most cases. What those people people failed to realize was how Dirk’s best teammate was Terry while Boozer had Deron Williams, Amare’ had Steve Nash, Gasol had Kobe, David West had CP3, Rasheed had Billups/Iverson, and Bosh, like Randolph failed to make the Playoffs in most cases.
             During that time span, 06-11, Dirk had seasons where he averaged 25pts 9reb, 24pts 9reb, 26pts 8reb, 25pts 8reb, and 23pts 7reb while none of the other players had years that were better than Dirk’s.
David West best season :  21pts 9reb
Carlos Boozer best season: 21pts 12reb
Rasheed Wallace best season: 12pts 7reb
Zach Randolph best season 21pts 13reb or 24pts 10reb
Chris Bosh best season: 24pts 11reb
Amare’ Stoudamire best season: 25pts 9reb
Pau Gasol best season: 21pts 10reb
   How many of those seasons are better than Dirk’s number wise without including FG %?
  Moving on now, if Dirk was on Rasheed Wallace’s Pistons teams they would’ve been a lot more dangerous. If Dirk would’ve been to that Hornets team instead of David West they would’ve been a lot better. If you put Dirk on that Lakers team that featured Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum ( sad case), Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson they would’ve 4peated. Put Dirk on Chris Bosh’s Raptors team that featured Jose Calderon they would’ve made the playoffs. Dirk and D-Will running the pick and roll would’ve equated into one of the most deadliest duos ever.( Same thing can be said for Dirk and Stockton but thats for later.) Put Dirk in Phoenix with Nash, Shawn Marion (Prime) and D’Antoni and they would’ve wrecked shop on league. Now lets flip the deal. How many of those guys could you sub in for Dirk that would led his Maverick teams that featured Jason Terry, Josh Howard and some jags ( Just A Guy,) to consecutive 50+ win seasons?
    I’ll answer that for you, none!!! Amare’ thrived doing the pick and roll with Nash; David West thrived doing the pick and roll with Chris Paul; Chris Bosh ran the pick and roll with Calderon, heck even Pau Gasol used the pick and roll to get going. In Dallas the Pick and Roll game wouldn’t have worked. In late game situations how many of those guys would’ve been able to shake loose for their shots like Dirk could? The answer is not many, if any. Throw in the fact that Dirk is the only one who’s 7ft with a stroke and an MVP award the debate gets ugly.
      Before he we can argue the Tim Duncans and KGs of the game we have to pay homage to some decent PFs that made names for themselves. Derrick Coleman, Dennis Rodman, Shawn Kemp and Chris Webber deserve some recognition. Defensively Rodman is 2nd to none, offensively he’s last to all. His offensive game was non existent and he was 6’8 which makes him a little PF. If he guarded Dirk he would get lit up for 40+.
       Now Derrick Coleman was nice, former #1 overall pick, but he only had 4 years of averaging 20+ and one allstar appearance so he’s pretty much cooked in this argument. Chris Webber doesn’t really make it an arguement either. He only had 2 years where he averaged 25pts or more. Furthermore his career was derailed by injury so we didn’t see the full extent of C-Webb. But his awards don’t really compare to Dirks either so he’s done.
        Shawn Kemp was yesterday’s Blake Griffin. His dunks were monstrous and breath taking, but every thing was OK at best. For his career he averages 14.6pts 8.4reb 1st. He tallied a total of two season in which he averaged 20 or more; his best season was when he averaged 19pts and 11reb, which really isn’t all that when compared to Dirk.
            THE TIME HAS COME

    When compared to the guys from earlier it wasn’t that fair, in the sense that he was head and shoulders above everyone else. At this stage things aren’t going be as easy, but you already knew that.
      Earlier when naming the top 5 PFs I put them in order. For those who don’t recall the sequence goes Tim Duncan-Karl Malone-Charles Barkley-Kevin Garnett-Kevin McHale. Instead of jumping the gun and going at Karl Malone or Barkley first i’ll start from the bottom.
                Dirk vs McHale
    During his time McHale was one of the best low post scorers in the game. He could defend and was an efficient player. Not to take away from his but he played with Larry Bird, arguably the best SF ever, and one the best centers ever in Robert Parish; not mention guys like Bill Walton and D.Johnson. Playing alongside them helped and hurt his career in a way. It helped because he won and accomplished some things, but it hurt because we never saw him as the main guy like we’ve seen KG, Dirk, Duncan, Barkley and Malone be. When looking at awards he has 3 rings, two 6th-man awards, 7 allstar appearances and 6 all defensive team honors. Dirk on the other hand has an MVP award, 9 allstar selections and a Finals MVP award. Throw in the fact that Dirk never played with an Allstar,( I’m not talking about an allstar that made the team as an injury replacement JOSH HOWARD,) and beat the two best players in the league, which had a top 15 player alongside them at the time, by his self shows how good Dirk really is. Give Dirk Larry Legend and the Chief and I’m sure he would have multiple championships. Dirk was also apart of the 50’s 40’s 90’s club at one point of time. Having Dirk with Parish would make that Celtics team bigger and a lot better offensively because of his floor spacing. Sorry McHale but Dirk brought another element to the table.
                 Dirk vs KG

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This debate can go either way. Defensively Garnett has it but offensively Dirk has it. They both aren’t bangers and play in a finesse style. KG does post fades and so does Dirk. Enough of that though, it’s time for the stats.
    For his career Garnett averages 19.1pts 1.5blks 1.3stl 2.3to 4ast 10.5reb 49.8% FGP 77.6 FTP

Dirk on the other hand averages 22.7ppg 0.9blk 0.9stl 1.9to. 2.6ast 8.2reb 47.4% FGP 87%FTP
   When looking at both they’re identical so that doesn’t help as much. If you look at their best season, no one gains the advantage.
KG Best Season: 24.2ppg 1.5stl 2.2blks 5.0ast 14reb 50% FGP

Dirk Best Season: 25ppg 0.7stl 0.8blk 3.4ast 9reb 50% FGP 41% 3pt 90% FT
Maybe Post Season play will help out.
Dirk’s postseason average: 26ppg 10reb 3ast 1blk 1stl

KG’s postseason average:  20ppg 11reb 4ast 1blk 1stl.

    After viewing that Dirk gains the edge and KG doesn’t recover. Before KG went to Boston he got out of the first round once. During one of his many first exits, KG got dogged by Dirk Nowitzki.  Dirk’s team sweep KG’s with some lopsided stats.
    In the the three games they played against each other the stats looked like this:
Points Per Game:
KG- 24.0
Dirk- 33.3
Turnovers:
KG-4
Dirk-2
Blocks:
KG- 1.7
Dirk- 1.3
Steals:
KG- 1.7
Dirk- 3
Assists:
KG- 5
Dirk- 1
Rebounds:
KG- 19
Dirk- 16
Field Goal %, ( FG, 3pt, FT,) :
KG- 43% 50% 71%
Dirk- 52% 72%
Dirk pretty much wins this one because of that and because he didn’t play with Pierce, Rondo and Allen, or be coached by Doc Rivers. If KG and Rondo are a great pick and roll, pick and pop tandem picture what Dirk would do. At the end of the day Dirk has done more with less. Put Dirk on the Celtics and they’ll be a lot better because of his offensive skill set.
TBC.